atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#2021: NEWS FLASH: SUVs can roll over if you drive like an idiot.

On the news just now was a story about a certain Lexus SUV which Consumer Reports has given a "don't buy" rating to, because it can roll over.


They showed a video clip--which was meant to be very scary--of said SUV going into a turn too fast, and the rear end kicked out, and then it went into a full four-wheel drift.

The news story then focussed on some Chicago area yuppie type who just bought this exact model. She wanted a safe vehicle to cart around her children. "I asked the salesman if this will roll over, and he said it wouldn't."

Here's some information for you, stupid bitch: ALL VEHICLES CAN ROLL OVER.

Bonus points were awarded, by the way, for the huge gas-guzzling tank of a truck with environmental license plates. Oh yeah, you're really eco-conscious, driving around the suburbs in a truck with a big V8 and which gets 18 MPG on the highway. Yeah.

This kind of thing drives me batshit insane, because ALL VEHICLES CAN ROLL OVER and SUVs--being trucks with higher centers of gravity than cars--are more likely to roll over. Yes, even if you have all kinds of fancy traction control and antilock brakes and anti-roll systems, ANY VEHICLE CAN ROLL OVER.

Toyota is suspending salea of the truck because of the Consumer Reports thing. It reminds me of the Suzuki Samurai fooraw back in the 1980s.

Back then Consumer Reports tested the stability of the Samurai and found it wanting. It was dangerous because it could roll over! They hung wheels on huge outriggers off the side of the thing (so it couldn't tip all the way over) and then put it through the one maneuver guaranteed to make it tip: the "avoidance" maneuver, where the driver swerved from one lane to another. The outriggers were perhaps four feet long; there were four of them and they all had wheels on the ends. With all that mass hanging that far out, you get it moving and the laws of physics take over. Figure 100 lbs per side and the leverage of having that mass sticking out four feet from the side of a light, narrow truck with a short wheelbase--the test was designed to make the thing roll over.

Suzuki's own tests used one outrigger per side and they didn't have this problem.

And since then I've seen videos of Samurais in maneuvers which Consumer Reports says would lead to a rollover, and no rollover occurred in those videos. Off-roading enthusiasts love the Samurai for its small size and easy modifiability. Not that it matters; the Consumer Reports story killed the Suzuki Samurai.

The Toyota problem occurs when a driver approaches a curve too fast and steps on the brake partway through the curve. It's called "trailing throttle oversteer" and it's normally the province of mid-engine cars. The truck oversteers and goes into a four-wheel drift. There is a relatively simple way to avoid this problem: obey the speed limit and pay attention to the advisory signs.

The advisory speed is posted on a little yellow rectangular sign below the sign warning you that there's a curve ahead. That's considered the maximum safe speed for the curve for the lowest common denominator; a sports car will be able to take the curve faster than that speed but a large truck will not. An SUV may or may not be able to safely negotiate the curve at the posted limit (rather than the advisory speed). Not all curves have an advisory speed posted, but if you're the kind of idiot who doesn't anticipate needing to go slower to take a curve in a vehicle with a high center of gravity, you're a moron who shouldn't be driving an SUV anyway.

The stupid woman in the news story could have bought just about anything to shlep her podlings around. She could probably have spent 1/3 the money on a nice new Chevy Malibu and gotten a nice car which would be just as safe as the SUV--if not safer, in her hands, because she's obviously a flaming idiot.

She's getting rid of the truck, and taking the monetary hit, because she's afraid of a rollover--when all she has to do to avoid a rollover is to put down the cell phone and drive the truck, pay attention to what she's doing, and drive at the speed limit. But that's too much for most people.

* * *

Not to put too fine a point on it, ALL VEHICLES CAN ROLL OVER.

I saw a Corvette--a brand new 2003 Corvette--roll over. The guy driving it (at a Corvette club track day) oversteered and ran the back end into a wall, which flipped the car over, but it's still a rollover. A Corvette--generally speaking--has a low enough center of gravity that the car will slide long before it rolls, but under the right (wrong?) circumstances you can make one flip.

It's true for every car and truck on the road.

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